From Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself (an exploration of neuroplasticity, in this case the curious fact that nerve supply to one body part can amalgamate with nerve supply to a part that has been severed):
Not all phantom [limbs] are painful. After Ramachandran published his discoveries, amputees began to seek him out. Several leg amputees reported, with much shame,* that when they had sex, they often experienced their orgasms in their phantom legs and feet. One man confessed that because his leg and foot were so much larger than his genitals, the orgasm was “much bigger” than it used to be. Though such patients might once have been dismissed as having overly large imaginations, Ramachandran argued that the claim made perfect neuroscientific sense. The Penfield brain map shows the genitals next to the feet, and since the feet no longer receive input, the genital maps likely invade the foot maps, so when the genitals experience pleasure, so do the phantom feet.
From John Donne’s Elegy XVIII, Loves Progress:
Rather set out below; practise my art.
Some symetry the foot hath with that part
Which thou dost seek, and is thy map for that,
Lovely enough to stop, but not stay at;
Least subject to disguise and change it is—
Men say the devil never can change his.
It is the emblem that hath figured
Firmness; ’tis the first part that comes to bed.
Civility we see refined; the kiss
Which at the face began, transplanted is,
Since to the hand, since to the imperial knee,
Now at the papal foot delights to be:
If kings think that the nearer way, and do
Rise from the foot, lovers may do so too.
I’ve always said science majors were too damn quick to bag on the liberal arts people. John Donne, 1572-1631.
* I am a bit suspicious of Doidge’s attribution of shame. His chapter on pain-pleasure overlap, as observed in even mild spanky forms of sadomasochism, is heavy with use of the words “pervert” and “perversion.” I sense a certain orthoerotic primness. Feh.